SUARAM: Press Statement 30 May 2011 Launching of Ops Scorpene


SUARAM: Press Statement 30 May 2011

Launching of Ops Scorpene

1) SUARAM is a human rights organization, known to speak out fearlessly in defence of human rights, good governance and an open and accountable society. For over 20 years SUARAM has worked to expose corrupt practices, poor governance and champion the rights of people before profits.

2) On the 5th June 2002, the Malaysian Government signed an agreement with French DCNS and Spainish Navantia for the procurement of two Scorpene class submarines. The procurement contract was through direct negotiation with the manufacturing companies, said to be with the service of Perimekar Sdn Bhd. Razak Baginda is the owner of Perimekar.

3) According to the Government explanation, the contract was divided into two parts:
i. Cost of two Scorpene submarines together with the package that covers Integrated Logistic Support and training amounted to Euro 969.15m (however on 14 May 2008, Najib told the Parliament that this part cost Euro 999.15)
ii. Payment to Perimekar Sdn Bhd in the name of “coordination services” for a period of six years, the sum was Euro 114.96m.
iii. With the exchange rate at the time, the cost was equivalent to:
1. Payment for submarine cost between: RM 2.14b (Euro=RM3.2 in 2002) – RM 5.43b (Euro=RM5.6 in 2008) (now Euro=RM4.7)
2. Commission: probably about RM 540m (exchange rate at the time of payment)

4) On 23 December 2009, SUARAM through our networks in France linked up with leading human rights lawyers in France, to file a complaint with the French judicial system, with the hope that a preliminary investigation would be initiated. This was done to enable access to information, to the government contracts signed with PERIMEKAR and other information classified as government secrets in Malaysia.

5) In April 2010, the lawyers representing SUARAM, informed us that the courts had accepted the request to investigate the claim of corruption for a payment amounting to Euro 114 million made as commissions from DCNS to Perimekar.

6) The French, practising the Civil Law system where a judge assumes the role of an inquisitorial and investigative referee, has so far kept the findings of its investigations confidential.

7) Our lawyers however, have informed us that the investigation is coming to an end, and should move to full trial after it decides whether or not there is sufficient evidence to pursue the matter in open court.

8) Ops Scorpene is a fundraiser and awareness campaign to further pursue the case in the French courts as a national issue. It seeks to instil interest amongst Malaysians to question arms spending and transparency in arms procurement of the country.

9) Ops Scorpene aims to get RM100,000 via events planned during the visit of the French lawyers to Malaysia.

10) SUARAM will be organizing two events in Penang and Kuala Lumpur during their visit to give a chance to ordinary citizens and Civil Society Organisations to grasp the facts of the scandal that has shook the nation. At the same time, we are giving the opportunity to the people to play a role in supporting this struggle, by buying tickets to the Hi-Tea event in Penang on the 21st of July, and the dinner in KL on the 23rd of July.

11) The hi-tea will feature a dialogue with the lawyers, NGOs and political parties; while the dinner will feature William Bourdon, a well known French lawyer as keynote speaker. SUARAM secretariat and political leaders will be speaking in response to the information shared by him. There will also be a number of performances and booths for NGOs to get their message and campaign forward.

12) Donations can also be made to SUARAM via cheque or online transfer to Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, Ac. No: 0300-0065-200, Hong Leong Bank Berhad.

13) SUARAM applauds the Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi for showing his enthusiasm by welcoming the probe by the French courts with open arms. We also thank his acknowledgement of SUARAM as a concerned civil
society non governmental association. However the probe and the case has nothing much to do with his ministry, and especially not him in his ministerial capacity. The commissions were not paid during his time as minister.

Thank you.

SUARAM

Scorpenes: French lawyers to come to KL ahead of open court hearing

French lawyers acting for SUARAM are due to come to Kuala Lumpur in late June or July to brief their client on the latest development in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s high-cost purchase of three submarines from European arms-maker DCNS.

SUARAM had on behalf of Malaysian taxpayers filed a suit against DCNS in December 2009 at the courts in Paris for “active and passive corruption, trading of favours and abuse of corporate assets”.

The civil rights group had been concerned there was ‘hanky-panky’ in the deal, the cost of which would ultimately have to be borne by Malaysian taxpayers. SUARAM suspected kickbacks worth hundreds of millions of ringgit had been hidden in the transaction and called on the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to investigate, but to no avail.

Also, despite constant grilling, Najib has kept the details of the transaction top secret while other members of his administration have provided only fuzzy details, even to Parliament.

“The lawyers are due to arrive and brief their client on the latest ahead of the hearing which will take place in open court. Once that happens, you can imagine what is next. Everyone will be very busy and the international media will be all over the place,” the source told Malaysia Chronicle.

A Parisian court is due to hear the case and a hearing date was initially slated for May-June, but that may now have to be slightly delayed as SUARAM is applying for an investigative judge to preside.

Briefings at various venues

It is not clear if the lawyers coming to KL will include Joseph Breham who came last year. But according to the source, the French team will also give several briefings to concerned citizens at various venues throughout the nation.

There is enormous public interest in the case, not only because intertwined into the submarines acquisition was a murder most foul, but because the purchase was deemed to be extremely overpriced. There is also concern that the 2 Scorpenes do not work properly as in the weeks after arrival last year, they failed to dive. The third submarine is a second-hand Agosta.

Apart from that, when Najib first mooted the purchase in the early 2000s, Malaysians had protested, arguing that the submarines were not suitable for guarding the nation’s shallow coastline and the cost was also unjustifiable.

But the BN government hammered the deal through, and so far, it has cost Malaysia at least RM6.7 billion ringgit, excluding add-on service fees which could push the total acquisition package to above RM10 billion in the next few years.

The deal had been sanctioned by Najib – who was then Defense minister. He was accused of benefiting his close friend Razak Baginda with a 114 million euros commission.

Debauchery

The Malaysian prime minister and his wife Rosmah Mansor were also accused of being involved in the murder of a Mongolian translator, who had helped in the communications with DCNS. The 28-year old Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered in KL by two former bodguards of the Malaysian first couple.

Both men, who were members of an elite police squad, have been sentenced to hang but the nation is unconvinced as they had no motive to kill her. The question still raging in Malaysia is, who ordered the killing?

The Parisian hearing will not dwell on the Altantuya murder but DCNS is likely to be grilled on her role in the deal.

Altantuya, who was shot in head and exploded with military C4 explosives, has become an international icon symbolising the ruthlessness and desperation in the murky world of international arms wheeling-and-dealing. She is also a reflection of the level of debauchery amongst the Umno elite. Umno is Najib’s party and has ruled Malaysia for 5 decades.

Under the 2000 OECD convention of which France is a party, anyone French individual or company found to be involved in corrupt deals with foreign governments can be punished with 10 years imprisonment and a Euro 150,000 fine. This ruling provided the impetus for the SUARAM move to try and recover taxpayers’ money lost through improper transactions. – Malaysia Chronicle

source: http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=12962:scorpenes-french-lawyers-to-come-to-kl-ahead-of-open-court-hearing&Itemid=2